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May 18, 2011
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I thought after my last journal, I should clarify my position on the whole GSP dealy.

I think his statements on the extent of his copyrights are just wrong. Hilariously wrong.

On the other hand, I think his statements about his grandiose position in palaeontological art are true, especially if we consider dinosaurs. His influence is vast, as an excursion into the galleries of nearly all of you will attest. I even think the he is more influential, and better, than Charles Knight (gasp!).

I've never understood this reverence for Knight. It's like every time he's mentioned, we have to reaffirm him being the best palaeoartist of all time hallowedbehisnameamen. Horseshit. Knight sometimes drew living animals and mammals very carefully, but he was frequently lazy and cartoonish with his dinosaurs. As for his painting prowess, yeah sure the guy could paint, but compared to his influences in the late nineteenth century he was--at best--dull. He had a mediocre feeling for light, fussy uninspired brushwork, sometimes awkward posing, and very conventional compositions. Not that he didn't have him moments, but Greg's claim to be his equal or better is certainly plausible.*

So, yes, I think Grey can be silly, but making fun of his hubris flies in the face of how most of us have approached this whole palaeontology thing. Yes, he's an arrogant fuck. But shit, so what?


*To continue on the theme of Knight bashing, I think Doug Henderson is clearly better than him too.
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:iconmurder-junkie:
Murder-Junkie Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I always thought Knight's art, even as a child, looked unbalanced and awkward. "Why are you showing me this jerk with his teeter-totter t-rex AGAIN, teacher?" I would think. I... was a bit of a jerk, back then.
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:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"Yes, it's stilted, flat and unrealistic, that the whole *fucking point!"
I agree with Dinomaniac on this one. Not that the *style* is unrealistic. That's just the style. It's what's being depicted that's often unbelievable to some extent. I'd call that fantasy art. Like painting an anatomically correct grizzly bear leaping full speed through the air to maul an anatomically correct bison which is rearing up on two legs amid a small herd of fleeing anatomically correct pronghorn. Is it something that happens in nature? Er, maybe... is it something that looks natural and believable as a piece of wildlife art? Nope.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Can of worms, opened up, stirred around, and served with maggot sauce.

Here's your scenario, folks, for real: in Knight's day, there were bones and really bad restorationhs. Knight was the first to actually give realistic life to those bones. He worked along with the best paleontologists of his day and utilized the latest facts known in his time. Greg Paul's work has been done nearly three quarters of a century later, so he should have some advantage in accuracy. Henderson is one of my favorites, but many of his restorations seem to me to ignore the bones; too stilted, often too thinly limbed.

Paul's work often suffers from that same lack of putting enough meat on the bones, IMO, and way too often draws stiff creatures reminiscent of taxidermy mounts--stiff taxidermy mounts. Examples? Go to his site and start his slideshow going. You'll see plenty. Don't misunderstand me: Greg Paul is also a favorite of mine, but he is not God and neither is his work perfect.

I don't look for perfection in something that we cannot, as yet, properly judge for even reasonable perfection. It's hard enough to do so for art worked from modern animals whom we can see and study and photograph and video. Claiming perfection for restorations of stone bones is foolish.

Looking back at mistakes made by past masters and claiming the artist is bad lacks class; good class, that is. Was Knight perfect? Nope. Was Burian? Nope. Were they inspirational to a lot of kids who later became paleontologists and paleoartists? Yes...according to them, anyway.
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
I've never considered Greg a wildlife artist, I guess. Certainly not one that was aiming for naturalism. It's all about the anatomy, which is quite a different take from previous palaeontological artists. It's also weird and (used to be) unique.
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:iconraven-amos:
raven-amos Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Professional General Artist
Maybe that's the inherent problem with some paleoart - it really _is_ wildlife art, but not a lot of people see it that way. We're so obsessed with the bones (rightly so), that we forget about the creature itself.

Greg's work lacks the realistic discipline and imagination of some of the other artists I have seen (James Gurney, for example, or even Wayne Barlowe and his parents). You can look at one of their pieces and feel the heat of the midday sun, smell the offal and blood in the air, feel the wind and water spray in your face. It's like comparing Brom or Frank Frazetta to Boris Vallejo - all of them work in oils, all of them do fantasy, but Vallejo, despite his talent and expertise, is flat, uninspired, and muddy when compared to Frazetta. Ironically enough, Vallejo is also a dick.

That's nice that he can use old drafting and architectural tricks to do his skeletals, but where's the *pulse*? Where's the life force?
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Got to agree with you! Gurney, though not always accurate, does superb work; alive and interesting, and just plain cool. Frazetta was a genius, as was Vallejo, but Vallejo took too many shortcuts; tracing photos, for example, to advance beyond a glitzy shine to please me. Obviously, he pleased a lot of people, though.

I've never dealt with Boris, so I cannot say how pirckish he is, but GSP? I wrote him a complimentary e-mail and he wrote one back insulting me. His privilege, but it also cut my respect for him way down. His art reflects his attitude--often stiff and formalized.
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:iconraven-amos:
raven-amos Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
I think perhaps I misspoke about B. Vallejo being a "dick" - I have had no firsthand conversations with him. I think it's more to do with the fact that I don't like the women in his paintings. I probably shouldn't have called him a dick just based on that - but it still bugs me.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
I like his women. I like his pencil work especially. In that medium, he not only approaches genius, he shakes hands with it and becomes well acquainted.

His conceptual designs bespeak of a well-honed talent, conversant with life. In my opinion, his highly finished paintings too often lose that special cache of life and soul and spirit. Not because they're highly finished, because artists like Carl Brenders catch life and detail supremely well. I don't know why he loses the soul in his finished work. Maybe too much control over the strokes?

Dunno.

My main problem with Paul's work has been stated: he draws and paints dead creatures most of the time. Most of them look like they've been mounted. And I say this in spite of how much I love and respect his work. GSP truly is a man and resource and artist to be treasured, respected, and admired.

Another artist whom I feel this way about is John Sibbick, though there are a few exceptions in his work. Doug Henderson's dinos and paleo creatures are often drawn stiffly--sorry, folks, knees DO bend quite often--but he also often DOES get the life right on the money and his compositions and atmospheric feel are to die for. WONDERFUL artist, IMO, and a great inspiration.

Life...hmmmmm....Hallett, Gurney, Burian, Knight, Witton, Bakker. Gurche misses the boat in his paintings quite often, though he has done some iconic images, but his 3D work is incredible, full of life and spirit and soul.

For prehistoric mammals...Jay Matternes.

Lessee....who else can I think of at the moment? Steve Czerkas. Possibly Brian Cooley (Spelling?) Phil Tippett certainly did some great work on dinos for the movies. Fully accurate? Nah. Fun to look at? You betcha!

Honorable mentions? Raul Martin and Csotonyi (Spelling?) Why honorable mentions? As wonderful as they can be, their styles are too close to each other and a few of their dinos bore me to tears...and I don't think of dinos as boring. GSP has never done that to me and neither have any of the others mentioned.

Fabio Pastori can be a little bit of a plagiarist, to judge from some pics and he is guilty of anachronisms in some of his pics, but his work is lively, as is Luis Rey's. Too colorful for my tastes, but he is greatly skilled and inventive and damned daring.

As for my fellow Deviants? I like a lot of what I see, your stuff included. Paleo King, Scott Hartman, Qilong and a few others do some fine, well researched stuff. Palaeozoologist also does interesting work.
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:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Knight is a great landscape/wildlife artist who did dinosaurs, so right of the bat, he's most respected. As somebody who likes seeing dinosaurs in a naturalistic light and in context, Knight rocks. But GSP is definitely more influential. Probably too much so. When I re-posed some of my scale charts so the theropods were standing still with their mouths closed people went ape-shit over it. GSP is the master of dinosaur anatomy to a fault. His stuff isn't realistic, it's hyper-realistic. It's like Body Worlds. Artificially posed studies in anatomy. Which is fine. It's almost like the crystal palace ichthyosaur with the bones of the flipper externally visible. Yes, we get it, you did your homework, you know all the muscles and length of the illial blade and how far that _Sinornithosaurus_ could extend its knee before it snapped. Now cover all that anatomy up in fat and integument and hide the entire extent and curvature of the neck in feathers and draw it asleep or something! But he doesn't and neither does almost anybody else. It's always super-skinny rippling muscles visible through the skin with no bulk pirouetting towards the neck of its doomed prey.

So yeah, I like Knight better (now) but there's no question that Paul is more influential.

And Henderson is better than all of them.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
You are right on the money (IMO) about Paul. Knight's influence, however, covers close to a century. Paul has the biggest mouth; canonizing his points of view, while vilifying other artists' work. Please read the text in his Predatory Dinosaurs of the World for examples. While that book is one of THE most influential books on dinos--rightfully so!!!!!--its text often leaves a very bad taste in the mouth, as though he is so unsure of himself, tearing down others is his best bet to rise to the top.
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Doug Henderson forever! I have never seen more beautiful dinosaurs than his.
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:icondinomaniac:
Dinomaniac Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Oh now wesa gonna argue.

*His influence is vast, as an excursion into the galleries of nearly all of you will attest.

Absolutely he is one of the most influential people in the field of paleoart. There's none who can take that away from him. But I would argue that hes influence has not been all good as I think it spawned a whole generation of people who drew what looked cool and not neccessarely what was right and correct. GSP was so revered that when he started to draw thick necked hadrosaurs people (me included) blindly followed.

*I even think the he is more influential, and better, than Charles Knight (gasp!).

As influential? quite possibly. Better?! I just have to disagree there, I simply have no choise. Knight's work despite it's outdated look have this really nice gritty realism. The animals look like real creatures. They have mass, they have volume, they are organic. Theyr far from slim sleek sportscar versions of pauls dinos which, let's face it, look as natural and have as much volume as cardboard Cut-outs. Hes style makes everything look angular and cartoony and while it does look cool on some paintings (Especially the painting where two Tyrannosaurus are running. The one with gorgeous cloudscape in the backround) it's far away from realistic look that I so enjoy in Knights work.

I don't think there's any sort of hallowedbehisnameamen reverence to Charles Knight any more than people generally revere the old master painters. Knight was among the first paleoartists and someone who did hes stuff really well. AFAIK Hes vision was impaired since childhood, legally blind IIRC (Whatever that meant in those times I have no idea), so maybe we can give him a bit of slack with hes brushwork. As for the lighting. Have you seen hes Trachodon painting! Or the La brea tar pit scene? fantastic stuff. With Pauls paintings I have often hardtime figuring where the light is coming from not to mention he doesn't quite seem to grasp the concept of color bleed and reflected light. Not to mention subsurface scattering.

*and very conventional compositions

And Paul doesn't?

Can you honestly say that GSP is more skilled than Knight. Really?
If so please elaborate why. I really wan't to know.

What does it tell you about Pauls work when teenagers can do what he does?

*Yes, he's an arrogant fuck. But shit, so what?

Oh I don't think anyone is denying hes right to be arrogant fuck. And I have full right to scrap him from my list of peeps who I admire.
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:iconnyctopterus:
nyctopterus Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Knights paintings look exactly like you expect from a competent, conventional artist of his era. There is no surprise there. And yes I am familiar with the paintings you mention, they are okay. As I said, the guy had his moments. I don't want to say he's bad, just that he wasn't all that special.

As for Greg Paul's style, it continues to amaze me that people continue to criticise the very things that make his work artistically interesting. Yes, it's stilted, flat and unrealistic, that the whole fucking point! Realism is only so interesting, and generally ceased to be artistically interesting with the invention of photography.

Personally, I think many people have been copying the wrong things from Greg Paul (mostly his style, which is out there), but that doesn't detract from Greg himself.

What does it tell you about Pauls work when teenagers can do what he does?

Huh? Look, age 19, I could copy just about any artist's work and have it look convincing. Does that make me Vermeer? No, it does not.

You seem to conflate painting skill with artistic quality. They are not the same thing. Related, yes, but not the same.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Knight was a superior artist and his best work is magnificent. How many artists can copy Knight successfully? I don't know of any. Artists who produce superior work generally have their own styles; Knight was one, Frazetta another. Was Knight superior to Paul as an artist? Yes, very much so, in my opinion, due to his ability to put life into his creatures. Burian ranks very well in that department too, as does Hallett, Gurney, and Bakker. Czerkas too, commands my respect and affection for his art, though I disagree with some of his theories.

Paul commands my respect for his erudition about bones and measurements. He was prescient and daring about his theories and predictions (feathers, anyone?) and he certainly has the right to stylize his dinos ANY way he pleases. I love his work. Period. But is he perfect? No.
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:icondinomaniac:
Dinomaniac Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
*I don't want to say he's bad, just that he wasn't all that special.

I agree there. And as I said the reverence of him comes mostly from the fact that he was among the first to do this stuff.
My disagreement is simply with the argument that GSP is better or equal to Charles Knight.

*As for Greg Paul's style, it continues to amaze me that people *continue *to criticise the very things that make his work artistically *interesting. Yes, it's stilted, flat and unrealistic, that the whole *fucking point!

Matter of taste I guess, but when unrealistic describes a piece of paleoart I truly think the artist has failed.
To me the whole point of paleoart is to bring something that can not be photographed to life in such a degree that the viewer believes it.

Painting something that exists with photographic realism is fine and shows the skill of the artist to some degree, but to draw something that is fantastic or something that doesn't exist anymore with same sort of realism...that to me is absolutely amazing and something I wan't to achieve. GSP's work is nice I guess but to me these days they feel booring as all hell. I'm not sure if the stylistic choices of hes are just that or just failures of understanding basics of light and shade. And I don't think that's a good thing. One more thing to add to the list of things I don't like in hes painting is the colors. Naive I would call them.

*Huh? Look, age 19, I could copy just about any artist's work and have *it look convincing. Does that make me Vermeer? No, it does not.

Well then you are amazing as I can barely do that now. Hats off to you.
To be clear I'm not saying that teenagers can copy individual works of GSP. I'm saying that teenagers can actually create something with GSP style and be really convincing.

*You seem to conflate painting skill with artistic quality. They are *not the same thing. Related, yes, but not the same.

Yes I absolutely do. I would go as far as to say they are the very same thing to me. I find it interesting that you don't. Could you elaborate your thoughts on this. ust curious.
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:iconnyctopterus:
nyctopterus Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Yes I absolutely do. I would go as far as to say they are the very same thing to me. I find it interesting that you don't. Could you elaborate your thoughts on this. ust curious.

Absolutely. An example: John Singer Sargent was an absolutely crazy talented painter, and I have never been able to copy his work perfectly, because it's just insane how quickly effortlessly and perfectly he laid paint on that canvas, with perfect flecks of light and fluidity, without correction. Monet on the other hand, I can copy very easily; it's almost embarrassing how easy it is. But which of these is the greater artist? Well, it's Monet, of course. His work does things that Sargent's doesn't, it's also much more inventive.

You only need skill enough to get the effect you want. If the skill is perfect, but the effect isn't all that interesting, then who give a fuck?

Now, how this relates to palaeo. If you think realism is the only game in town, you should be turning to 3D, surely? Done with skill, it can achieve almost perfect realism. Now, I find it dull, but it sure looks real.
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:icondinomaniac:
Dinomaniac Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Well the great thing about Monet is the way he uses color which is just brilliant, but doesn't such use of color require artistic skill? I guess it culminates into how do you define skill. But yeah I think I get your point but have to disagree with you again because I far prefer Sargent over Monet. Hes stuff is just amazing! I recently copied two of hes paintings just in effort of studying them and my god was it painfull and time consuming. To see something that is beyond my grasp at the moment is isnpiring to me. It's another mountain to climb so to speak.
Never tried copying Monet painting.

*If you think realism is the only game in town, you should be *turning to 3D, surely? Done with skill, it can achieve almost *perfect realism. Now, I find it dull, but it sure looks real.

Nah not my thing. I far prefer the intellectual challenge of creating the realistic effect/illusion by painting or drawing.
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
I absolutely agree with your concepts of skill and effect. If the job of an artist is to evoke a particular response from the audience, then skill is a much less important criterion for judgment than effect.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Without the skill, no effect! Just accidents cannot cover all you want, WHEN you want!
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012
But (I think. I'm not sure I understood you) you yourself are making this judgement based on effect.

"Just accidents cannot cover all"(the effects you want to produce in the audience). In other words, you need skills to produce effect. In other words, effect is your goal, and therefore more important than skills alone.

Consider this: A painting with skill and no effect is worthless. A painting with effect and no skill is physically unlikely.

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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Ummmm...no. Accidents CAN produce some marvelous work. Unlikely? Yes. Very unlikely? Not at all. However, to produce what you want more often than not, one better had get their skills in line.
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(1 Reply)
:icondinomaniac:
Dinomaniac Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
but if you don't have the skill there will be no effects what so ever...
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
It all depends, Dinomaniac. As I have said, accidents can produce some marvelous effects. Actually, lots of artistic advancements come from accidents.

And how come so much copying of styles from other artists? I mean, how does one's not being able to copy JS Sargent mean anything? If his only claim to fame was facile brushwork, I'd scarcely remember the man's art. He went far beyond that. As did Knight.

Try this for an experiment: take a pic or set of pics of the mount of a dino skeleton. Flesh it out and make it look alive, then put it into a background, making it part of its own world, whether accurate or not. My basic limiter is this--you can study living animals all you want, learning their builds and psychologies and movements, but you can NOT look at anyone else's dino restorations; no that one, at any rate.

When you can do lifelike restorations of reptiles and mammals and dinos to the extent that I and most onlookers would say is lifelike and inspiring, then I will say you're getting somewhere. Knight not only drew and painted and sculpted dinosaurs and prehistoric life and modern animals; birds, reptiles and so on, but he was an excellent portraitist of humans as well.

Perfect? No. Inspiring to me and many thousands, maybe millions of others? You betcha! His ability as an artist was about as average as Mount Everest is average in height. Yes it IS average...when counted amongst the highest peaks of the world on the mighty Himalayan plateau.

I don't praise an artist to the heights because I like their work. I love GSP's work, but I scarcely consider him an artist--too married to measurement and too lacking in spirit for me. Besides, we often forget how prescient Knight was. And how daring. He drew Diplodocus rearing on its hind legs. Ornitholestes was shown as an agile, active predator, catching a bird in flight. His Dryptosaurs just ooze action, while a number of his theropods were given bird-like hindlimbs with broad thighs. Yes, he made mistakes in the light of modern knowledge, but he was dead-on accurate for his time. Can the same be said for GSP? Nope. Henderson? Nope.
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Yes, but the purpose of developing that skill in the first place is to create an effect on your viewers. Everything else is just practice.
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:icondinomaniac:
Dinomaniac Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
There is no such thing as JUST practice. :)
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(2 Replies)
:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Right, skill is necessary, but not sufficient. And you only need enough skill to reach the effect you want.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Watch out! Warning! WARNING!!!!!!! Quantifying skill and effect can be dangerous! To your ART!!!!

Just thought I'd let you know...
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:icondinomaniac:
Dinomaniac Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Ok yes, agreed. again out of pure curiosity, in your oppinion in which area/s does Paul excels over Knight?
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:icontuomaskoivurinne:
tuomaskoivurinne Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I stated my opinion about GSP-issue to ~HodariNundu's Journal couple months back, so I shall quote myself:

Haven't followed the actual debate that actively, but the issue is a bit complex.
Gregory Paul is a milestone in paleoart, no doubt about that with distinctive illustrations and radical (at the time) thinking involved. As he has become what he is today, it's only natural that his style has attracted many amateur (paleo) artists. It's quite common to pick something on the way, when an artist tries to find him/herself and his/her own style. I myself can name some artists with "heavy" GSP influence in their works. Can someone mimic his style too far? I know, I'd be pissed if someone would steal my art, but it's not exactly the case of art thievery either.
The skeletal-issue I don't understand. I always thought that scientific illustrations like these are more like teaching material and clearly made for references? Was that GSP's skeletal book ment to be an artistic piece? Or scientific material?
I don't have a chance to go measure the bones I want! So am I suppose to stop using skeletal references? Seriously?
I do use them, and encourage others to do background research. If I use the exact exact shape, pose etc. of a specific skeletal reconstruction made by someone (rarely), I'll include the name of the skeletal artist. It's just polite, if nothing else.
I think that Mr. Paul isn't a jerk, but he isn't doing the right thing.

As for Knight, I agree with you. However it's worth remembering that his reconstructions were the "paleo-art" of his time, when animals were depicted in museums and books the same way he depicted prehistoric animals. So, another milestone in dinosaur art history, but we shouldn't consider him god above all else.

Basically, it's like when someone asks you what sort of music do you listen?
- "Hmmm... I like rock, metal etc."
- "Really? What bands?"
If you answer "Metallica" you're safe, no matter if you really like them or not. Same thing with "Knight" if someone happens to ask your favourite paleoartists in the bar (never happens).
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Metallica? You tasteless hack, I kill you!
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:icontuomaskoivurinne:
tuomaskoivurinne Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think we're on the same page then ;)
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:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
What do you think about alternatives to the GSP skeletal pose?
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:iconnyctopterus:
nyctopterus Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
GSP's skeletal pose is non-optimal anyway (lots of animals couldn't or didn't reach it), so I think replacing it is fine.
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